Monday, February 17, 2014
Cult-TV Theme Watch: Motorcycles
Motorcycles are (generally) two-wheeled motor vehicles, typically utilized for sports, travel, and by social clubs. The first motorcycle was built in England in the 1880s.
The motorcycle has been a staple of cult-television for different reasons at different times throughout the medium’s history.
In some cases, the motorcycle has symbolized the “cool” outsider status of several iconic characters, notably Fonzie (Henry Winkler) on Happy Days (1974 – 1984), Daryl (Norman Reedus) on AMC’s The Walking Dead (2010 - ) and the men of SAMCRO on Sons of Anarchy (2008).
The motorcycle has also been the ride for several superheroes including Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (Batman [1966 – 1969], Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman [1976 – 1979], and even Tom Wellings Clark Kent…but only when he is under the influence of Red Kryptonite (Smallville [2001 – 2011]).
Extra-terrestrials have also often selected motorcycles as their ride of choice.
For instance, at least three incarnations of the rebellious Time Lord on Doctor Who (1963 – 1989; 2005 - ) -- the third (Jon Pertwee), the seventh (Sylvester McCoy) and the eleventh (Matt Smith) -- have been seen occasionally on motorcycles.
And when the ancient astronauts of Galactica: 1980 (1980) came to Earth, they rode flying motorcycles on the Los Angeles freeway. In another Glen Larson production, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Buck (Gil Gerard) fixes up an old motorcycle in the episode “Escape from Wedded Bliss.”
In the classic Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964), motorcycles and motorcycle gangs were actually alien invaders in the tale “Black Leather Jackets,” by Earl Hamner, Jr.
It’s very much the same story for supernatural creatures.
Vampires often ride motorcycles, as in the case of Nick Knight (Forever Knight [1992 – 1996]) and Spike (James Marsters) on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003).
And in the classic Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975) episode called “Chopper” -- an update of the Headless Horseman trope -- a headless motorcyclist commits a series of violent murders.